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Although there is a growing tendency for satellites to become larger, there is still a need for a small launcher to place 300 kg to 2000 kg satellites into the polar and low-Earth orbits used for many scientific and Earth observation missions.
Europe’s answer to these needs is Vega, named after the second brightest star in the northern hemisphere. Vega will make access to space easier, quicker and cheaper.
Costs are being kept to a minimum by using advanced low-cost technologies and by introducing an optimised synergy with existing production facilities used for Ariane launchers.
Vega has been designed as a single body launcher with three solid propulsion stages and an additional liquid propulsion upper module used for attitude and orbit control, and for satellite release. Unlike most small launchers, Vega will be able to place multiple payloads into orbit.
Development of the Vega launcher started in 1998. The first launch is planned for 2010 from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana, where the Ariane 1 launch facilities have been adapted for its use.